I woke up the next morning and saw sunlight creeping through the window. I turned to my other side and noticed that Denethor was not there. Wearily, I sat up and looked about my new chamber. It was rather large, with marble floors and pillars, and a door leading to the privy. I was glad Denethor had left so early – our wedding night, from my behalf was not that 'amazing', as I never expected it to be. My husband finishing quick was the only satisfaction I received.
I shook the thought from my mind and quickly threw on a robe, and walked over to the table to get some water. Shortly after, my maid arrived, helped me dress, and informed me that my husband and father-in-law were waiting for me in the dining hall. Already, customs had changed. I have never been a morning person, and back home I was permitted to take my morning meals in my chamber.
As I entered the dining hall, Denethor smiled at me, while Ecthelion bowed his head in acknowledgment. I sat down across from Denethor, hoping I would not be expected to make conversation so early in the morning. I looked down the long table and wished we had more company. It felt strange – sitting in a large room with two older men I barely knew.
The silence was starting to become unbearable, since I was used to the waves crashing against the peninsula in Dol Amroth.
I remembered that Denethor had two older sisters. The year previously, his eldest sister had died of a sweating sickness, which plagued through the city during spring. His other sister, Tatiel, I had met at the wedding. She was a lovely woman who was married to Lord Angbor of Lamedon. I was saddened by her departure the previous evening, but she promised to return in the near future.
The rest of the day consisted of me becoming better acquainted with the Lords and Ladies of the Court. To my surprise, Lord Denethor did not spend any time with me. I later discovered that he was helping his father with plans to increase their army. The court of Ecthelion was so dire compared to the royal court of my father. That day, I wore a deep red gown, which made me feel so out of place since the rest of the court wore deep blues, purples and other dark colours. However, the court ended up being a resourceful place for news. During my first month of marriage, I learned more about my husband by listening to others gossip. I was rather surprised to hear that Denethor did not lead the army of Gondor. Years ago, when I became aware of Lord Denethor, I imagined him as a tall, valiant man, leading his men into battle on a great horse. Before my first acquaintance with him, I would daydream of him riding up the peninsula with the banners of the White Tower flowing behind him. I imagined him as a man who could stand up against anything and triumph. My brother was like that. As much as he was a student of law, he was able to wield a sword and become a captain of my father's knights.
I suppose I found myself a fool when I finally met Denethor. I was only seventeen at the time – nine years before my marriage to him. He was nothing near to how I imagined him to be. He met my father, standing behind his own. He had a proud stance, but he wore no armour and carried no sword. During his stay in Dol Amroth, he spent many long hours in our library, and then he would go for long walks. One day, I asked him why he would walk everywhere when he could easily ride. He replied – 'It helps me think, unwind, and solve many problems concerning the enemy.'
My main resentment to marrying him was not his age, but the fact I was so disappointed with him when I was such a young, naive girl.
One evening, I found myself standing in the front courtyard of the Citadel, watching Mordor. Still, I was terrified of such evil. Sometimes during the nights, I would wake up, sweating and shaking from a nightmare. My dreams were of me, walking along the Anduin River, wearing the pale blue dress I wore on my coming of age ceremony. I would always be singing the same tune that I had learned from my nurse as a child. Then, out of nowhere, a dark shadow crept across the sky. It swept from the East, over the mountains from Mordor. I watched as the shadow came across the plains to Minas Tirith, where the brilliant light of the city vanished, and all turned to a shadowy grey. Then, to my right, I could see the enemy marching before the City of Kings. I tried to run for help. For some reason, I believed that I could run to Dol Amroth in time, but my nightmare would always end with nine, tall figures cloaked in black walking towards me. I never managed to see their faces, but I was at their mercy. Most times, I would wake Denethor as I sat up suddenly in bed. He would comfort me, and managed to get a physician to make a draught to stop my bad dreams. Lately, he had been caring for me a great deal, but sadly, the draught had not yet worked.
So as I stood out in the courtyard, Denethor came to my side. "My lady."
He would always address me as 'My lady', even when I asked him to just call me Finduilas. He was a man of great respect.
"Denethor," I replied, bowing my head. Lately, every time he came near me, a swelling of nerves would start from the pit of my stomach.
"Will you walk with me?"
I smiled. "I would be happy to."
For a short time, we walked in silence, down to the sixth level of the city. The sixth level was my favourite part of the city. There dwelled the Houses of Healing, and I believed it to have the most beautiful gardens in all of Gondor. As often as I could, I would go there and help with the sick. The Houses of Healing was my sanctuary.
"Is something troubling you?" Denethor's question startled me, for at the time, I was wondering about the young child who had fallen ill the day before.
"No, my lord, what gives you reason to ask?"
He sighed and held my hand. "Nearly every day I see you walking around in silence. You barely speak to anyone, and you always have a look of distress."
I lowered my eyes. "I... I am still getting used to living here. I am sorry if I seem shy."
He smiled. "If that is all it is, then I have nothing to worry about."
Relief flowed through me. The last thing that I wanted was to be interrogated as to why I was unhappy here.
In May, I was happy to see Denethor's sister, Tatiel, arrive with her young daughter, Voronda. I was joyed to see Tatiel again.
"So tell me about Lamedon!" I exclaimed, once the two of us were sitting in my common room.
Tatiel placed down her cup of tea and sighed. "My home is beautiful, but I am afraid I am of no interest to my husband."
I frowned. "Why do you say that?"
"I am older than he is. Lord Angbor is in his early thirties, while I am forty-eight!"
I was rather shocked by this. Most women were married to men older than they were. "May I ask why you married him?"
Tatiel sat back in her chair and looked at her five-year-old daughter, who was playing with some of my jewellery. "My father arranged it to strengthen the relationship with Lamedon."
"Just as my father arranged my marriage to your brother," I replied. "But you must be happy! You have a beautiful daughter."
"I am afraid she is the only child I will ever have." Tatiel paused and sighed. "I am no longer able to bare children. I am barren."
My heart sank. "My lady, I am so sorry."
"Do not be," she replied gently. "I am happy I was granted a daughter, even though a son would have greatly pleased my husband."
"I am sure he loves Voronda."
"He takes mistresses!" she almost shouted. Voronda looked up and lowered the necklace she was holding.
"Mama," she whispered.
Tatiel's expression softened. "I am sorry my sweet."
Voronda continued to explore my jewellery box, ignoring us. "Tatiel... I... well." I could not find any words of comfort for her. If Denethor took a mistress, I would feel like an utter fool! I would feel like the whole world was laughing at me because I failed to please my husband.
"Do not concern yourself," Tatiel finally said. "My husband and I barely speak to each other now. We no longer share a bed during the nights, and it is no secret that our marriage is an unhappy one."
During her two-week stay, I noticed Denethor and Tatiel had a rather close bond. It reminded me of my relationship with Imrahil. Lately, my brother would send me frequent letters asking of my health and informing me of events which were happening in Belfalas. As much as I enjoyed receiving his letters, I felt waves of sadness flow through me. I missed Dol Amroth so much.
"Denethor," I said one evening. He and I were sitting in our chamber at the table.
"Yes," he replied.
"When will I be able to see my family again?"
Denethor looked at me for a moment with curiosity. "Unless your family comes to Minas Tirith, you will not be able to see them."
I was surprised but his words and almost gasped. "But why?"
"The enemy is advancing, therefore my father and I cannot allow you to travel so far. We are not yet certain which parts of Gondor has enemy legions hiding."
"But the quickest way to Dol Amroth is by sailing down the Anduin River. I am sure there are no enemy legions hiding in the river."
He gave me a warm smile. "My dear, you cannot go. We cannot spare men to escort you there and back."
I lowered my eyes, feeling tears swelling. I knew I would not be able to win my case, so I said no more and went to bed.
At the end of May, a wizard by the name of Gandalf arrived in the city seeking council with Ecthelion. I was curious by Gandalf since I had never met a wizard before, and I believed that a being so powerful and full of knowledge would naturally have a close friendship with my husband.
Denethor and I stood to the left of Ecthelion, who sat in the Steward's throne. Gandalf approached, wearing grey clothing with a pointy, grey hat. I hardened my gaze to see his face, which was mostly covered by his long grey beard and bushy grey eyebrows. Next to me, I felt Denethor stiffen his posture. Slowly, I moved my gaze to him, and saw his face was full of suspicion.
"Lord Ecthelion," Gandalf said, leaning on his staff. "Lord of Gondor."
"Mithrandir," Ecthelion said, "what brings you to Gondor?"
"I have heard rumours of the enemy advancing in the south. So I have come to see if the rumours are true."
"Not much has changed since your last visit, Mithrandir," Ecthelion replied. "Mordor has not yet attacked a city of Gondor, but my son and I are not going to sit around and wait for such a thing to happen."
"May I ask what your plan is?" Gandalf asked.
"We are increasing our army along the western banks of the Anduin River," Denethor replied, "and sending scouts and guards to our fortress at Cair Andros."
Gandalf nodded. "Have there been reports of Black Riders?"
I felt nerves swelling within me. I wondered if these Black Riders were the tall, black figures in my dreams.
"No," Ecthelion replied. "And I know what you are referring to. No such creature or rider has been seen in Gondor for quite some time."
Gandalf looked relieved at his words, and so was I. But my fear of my nightmare coming true was only growing.
Later that evening, I was looking out my chamber window when Denethor entered, holding a small box. "My lady."
I gave him a curtsy and smiled. "Husband."
"I have a gift for you," he said, walking over and handing the small box over to me.
"Thank you," I replied softly. I carefully opened the box and noticed a silver necklace with a large, round pendant. The pendant had a ship in the centre, painted blue and black. It was beautiful. "Where did you get this?"
He smiled. "I found it at a jeweller in the city. When I saw it, it immediately reminded me of you."
I could not help but smile. "It's beautiful, my lord, and thank you."
While he left for the privy, I admired my new necklace. It reminded me of my home, and of my brother who had a strong liking for sailing. Warmth swelled in my heart – now, I was starting to feel at home.
August slowly came, and my days consisted of caring for the ill in the Houses of Healing. It was the only way to distract me from the growing threat in the east. I found no comfort in the Citadel – there were always men, dressed fully in armour arriving for council with Ecthelion and Denethor. My husband had asked me to attend these councils, thinking it would give me a better insight as what my life would consist of when I became the Stewardess of Gondor. Truthfully, I did not find talking about war on a day-to-day base appealing. I was curious as to why my husband would talk about war, write up plans and strategies for defending the western bank of Anduin, but never rode out himself. He showed no interest in going into battle, and his father never pressured him into doing so. I supposed at the time I should have felt lucky. A healer in the Houses of Healing called me 'the lucky wife', because my husband was not a soldier eager for battle. It did give me some ease in knowing that if war did come to Gondor, my husband would be safe inside the Citadel, waiting for news.
"Finduilas," Denethor addressed me late one evening.
"Yes?" I asked.
"We have been married for five months."
I gave him an odd look. "I know, dear." Lately, I had become far closer to him. We walked about the sixth and fifth level of Minas Tirith five times week together in the afternoons, and dined alone at night in our chamber.
He hesitated before continuing. "Are you showing any signs of... being with child?"
"N... no my lord." I felt so embarrassed talking about it. Usually, men were not concerned with such matters. Most noble women did conceive at least once in their life, and usually a son was born.
He nodded, accepting the news calmly. "Well, there is still time, I suppose."
I tried to give him a reassuring smile. "I am still very young."
He returned my smiled. "That you are. Come, let us retire."
I woke the next morning, feeling his chest on my back. I was cuddled up to him, with his arm holding me close. I felt so secure in his arms, but I lied still, not wanting to wake him. My husband was a man of lore, and it took me quite a few months before I could appreciate that. My young, naive thoughts clouded my best judgement that I had actually married a good man who cared a great deal for me.
Back then, all those years ago, I felt so loved and cared for. Now, many years later I do not feel the same love he once gave me. These days, my husband is not the man he used to be, and it pains me so much to know that I have lost that love.